Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China


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Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China - Google книги

Two years ago I came to know Liu Xiaobo remotely, when he contributed a chapter to China's Great Leap , a book I edited on thirty years of change in China and the human rights hurdles to the Beijing Games. China's writers are good judges of the challenges their writing poses to the authorities, and I felt it was essential to include voices from inside the country in a book about China. As I wrote in my acknowledgments, I was heartened by the fact that several contributors wrote and edited chapters from inside China, which I took as "proof that at least in some respects, the country is more free than it once was.

Most of all, I appreciated Liu's lively writing. His chapter was submitted in Chinese and unfortunately too few of his writings are available in English for the world to appreciate his sharp sense for detail and clever writing style.

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Liu turned a wry eye on the Olympian circus in Beijing, calling the city a "hot wok of nationalism. The Beijing Games led to a worsening of human rights in China: residents were evicted from their homes to make way for Olympic venues, migrant workers built venues under hazardous conditions, and protests were banned.

Liu Xiaobo and China's Future

Journalists and the internet were censored, despite the Chinese government's express media freedom pledges. Perhaps most damaging to the long-term prospects for reform in China, before, during and after the Olympic Games, many courageous members of civil society and rights defenders were harassed, unlawfully detained, subjected to "disappearances," and some were given long prison sentences.

They had mistakenly taken their own government at its word that there would be more space for rights in China. And it is that same determination to continue the fight for basic freedoms that inspired Charter 08 , which does not call for an overthrow of the Chinese government but rather for constitutional reform and a greater respect of human rights.


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The document's preamble states that "freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind" and that "democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values. Originally signed by Chinese citizens including rights defenders and legal activists, Charter 08 was circulated online and has now collected close to 10, signatures -- despite Beijing's efforts to suppress its availability on the Internet. A former professor of literature who headed the Chinese section of the international writers' organization PEN, Liu has already paid a heavy price for seeking to exercise the right to free expression.

In addition to being jailed for his support of Tiananmen Square protesters, he was sentenced in to three years of reeducation-through labor after circulating a petition for freedom of speech and the right to form independent political parties in China. Last December 22, an international group of rights defenders, lawyers and writers -- including three Nobel Prize winners -- sent Chinese President Hu Jintao an open letter calling for Liu's release.

They wrote, "For the international community to take seriously China's oft-stated commitment to respect human rights and the rule of law The Chinese government has consistently said that it wants the world to view China as a "responsible power. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.

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    Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China
    Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China
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    Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China
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